I always figured that when they finally bring me down from the roof, the hunting rifle still clutched in my cold hands; that is what all the neighbors will say. Such a quiet man; he never caused any trouble. Isn’t that they way they describe most of those poor saps who finally snap and go postal? Has anyone ever seen an interview with the neighbors where they said, “He was definitely wacko and we were just waiting for him to go over the edge any time!”? Well I was never actually that good of a kid; I just got lucky and managed to not get caught nearly all the time. And I figure that for anything I did the statute of limitations must have expired by now, so it is finally safe to come clean.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Tony Soprano either. And the things I did do didn’t really harm anybody, and most didn’t do any harm, or at least that is what I always told myself to sleep better at night.
What teenagers don’t sneak out a bit at night? Especially on a warm summer evening, it was just too tempting. I actually never sneaked out of my own home, but I would spend the night at Eric’s quit often, and we would stay in their trailer – making it just natural to head out ‘on the town’. At fourteen and fifteen this meant that we headed down to the local arcade.
It was there that we met Tony. Now that isn’t his real name. There are two reasons for this. The first reason will quickly become obvious as the story unfolds, if you can’t guess it already. The second is I honestly don’t remember his name. No idea whatsoever – and in fact I haven’t thought of him by name in over twenty-five years now. So I’ll call him Tony.
He was good at video games – something I never have been. He was easy going, and very easy to talk to. And did I mention he was older – like in his mid twenties? And he liked to hang out with young teenage boys. He liked to buy them liquor as well. In fact, I think it was with him and Eric that I first got drunk outside the home.
Let me explain that a bit first. I didn’t sneak booze at home, but on holidays we were allowed to have a glass of wine with dinner. And there were times we just happened to get a refill on it as well. And there was more than one Thanksgiving or Christmas that I distinctly remember heading back to my room after dinner, and quite enjoying the feeling of the room spinning around. Trying to put together an erector set at age ten is challenging enough for a klutz like me, but doing it after a couple of glasses of wine – those were some quite ‘creative’ things I built. So I’d had some wine before, but never on my own.
Tony liked Sloe Gin, and made us Sloe Gin Fizz’s. Probably because it was so sweet – you don’t really taste the alcohol in them at all – more like fruit pop. It was on these that I first remember being around someone throwing up drunk as well. We were in Tony’s car, and it hit Eric the way it always does – quick and powerful.
The urge to throw up when you are drunk is akin to an unstoppable force of nature – it overpowers you and takes complete control, and the best you can hope for is to hang on and ride out the storm. At least Eric was able to get the window down – it would be a much less pleasant memory had his head stayed in the car. As it was, I still smile to think of the purple streak down the side of the green car, driving down the highway.
After we started drinking with him a few times, then things got a little weird. We snuck into the local pool one night to go skinny dipping – which in this case was just walking across and then getting the heck out of there before we cold get caught. That was an interesting night, as we very nearly got pulled over afterward – I’m not sure how he would have explained me sitting in the back seat without any pants on at the time to the cops.
The next week, he invited us over to his house. We thought that was pretty cool – he had some playboys strewn about. Nothing was cooler to young teenage boys back then than pictures of beautiful, naked women, especially when we didn’t have to sneak around to see them. But then things started to get a little strange. Tony started to make suggestions to us – just to go ahead right there. “Whip it out” as you could put it, and go to town.
Now I was only fourteen, so I was stupid. All teenagers are. That is a simple fact of life. I was controlled completely by my hormones and with very little grey matter in my head. And if it had been suggested by a woman; well even the thought of someone with breasts even talking to me, let alone serving me drinks and being suggestive; that would have been it. You hear about these school teachers seducing teenage boys and I can tell you, there was very little seducing going on. At that age all it takes is the word “yes” and they are there. The little head takes over, the blood flow to what little brain is in your head stops completely, and that, as they say, is all she wrote.
But this wasn’t a woman. Even though I was stupid, I wasn’t that stupid. Eric and I both kept looking at each other, and it was obvious to both of us that something was very, very wrong there. There aren’t many things that can end a teenage erection, and in fact they come up at the most inappropriate times at that age (the end of that is one of the ONLY benefits to growing older), but that was one of them.
It was late. We needed to get home. And any other excuse we could think of to get the hell out of there. And for the next several weeks we avoided the arcade, and avoided Tony whenever we saw his car. That chapter was over, and we were happy, feeling, rightly so, that we had dodged that bullet. And it was confirmed a few months later when we heard he had been arrested – apparently with two other boys who were even stupider than we were. We never saw him around town again, and I like to think that he found himself a new boyfriend in jail – who was about 400 lbs, named Bubba, and bought him for a pack of cigarettes.
Now this experience didn’t stop us from sneaking out. We just stayed to ourselves after that. We never did get busted, but we came close several times.
One summer night, about one am, we were heading home from the arcade. We decided to cut across the junior high school field, just to save half a block walking around it. Not a big deal, walk right through the gatehouse, but we had to climb the wall on the other side. So we get to the wall, and Eric hops right over. I stop at the corner, inside the wall, to have a little conference call with Mother Nature. Something about taking a pee on the school wall was just very appealing. But just as I start we both see the headlights turning the corner – and it is a cop. Now I’m standing inside the corner of a five foot wall – with iron work on the top. As a fully grown man I’m only five foot eleven – so back then I was completely hidden. So I didn’t even try to stop, I just enjoyed the show.
Eric, on the other hand, had just climbed over the wall. I see him diving behind a hedge across the street. Trying to hide behind this three foot row of bushes as the cops come by, spotlight right on them. Slowing down, checking it out, because they had seen some kind of movement as they turned the corner. So he’s crawling, trying to avoid the light, and I’m silently laughing while I pee on the wall. Luckily for him they didn’t see him, and after what must have felt like an hour but was most likely only thirty seconds, they shut off the spotlight and drive on down the street. I watch the taillights drive off, and after they finally turn again two blocks away, casually zip up and climb over the wall myself, now freely laughing out loud.
Thinking back on it, sneaking out became less and less of interest to us once I started driving. For one, the town pretty much completely shut down by midnight. So if you went out, there was no place to go and absolutely nothing to do. Once I had the family car I usually didn’t have to be in until midnight anyway, so not a big deal. If we had a dance at school I would get an extra half hour after it ended to get home – and though we usually didn’t stay at the dance that was plenty of time.